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  • Fried Mice and Urine Mouth Rinses: Traditional Toothache Cures September 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    Beach has been living toothache hell for the last two weeks. A wisdom tooth had to be extracted and that was just fine: a bit of anesthetic and POW. But then the jawbone became infected and said bone had to be scraped with little in the way of laughing gas. Painkiller, antiobiotics were rushed in and only now is pain properly receding: pain really matters, it changes the world. In tribute to all those who suffer or have suffered from toothache there follow this list of nineteenth-century toothache remedies from the UK. Most of these originally appeared in an article in The Standard in July 1890: there are also some modest additions, but this article is apparently our best folklore source.

    Hazel twigs were supposed to help in various forms. Typically they were burnt in some forms and then drunk, but in some areas it was enough to just pass the hazel twig over the tooth in question.*

    Herbs and a live coal were put in a cup and the fumes were breathed in then breathed out into a cup of water. *

    Pear wood put on the tooth was supposed to help: a German remedy based, allegedly, on the idea that the pear dryad would help get the tooth out.*

    Put on the right boot, stocking and trouser leg before the left boot, stocking and trouser leg.

    Carry a potato in your pocket: apparently prevention not cure. Other lucky tooth objects include a sprig of rowan tree, a ‘cramp bone’, a double hazel nut, and a bit of coal.

    Hang a dead swallow around your neck. (Another version had incinerated swallow ashes and honey mixed together and eaten by the sufferer.)*

    Moles’ paws chopped off and worn in a bag around the neck.

    Eat a mouse fried in butter.

    Eat or carry a splinter from a gibbet where a body hangs hung collected after dark.

    Urine mouth rinces.

    Pass children suffering from toothache through a gap in an ash tree.

    If a tooth has been removed it must be covered in salt and burnt in a clear fire (what is a clear fire?).*

    Wearing written charms around the neck.

    Eat serpent broth or bit the head off a live serpent.

    Beach has put an asterisk next to those remedies which were supposed or that may have been supposed originally to combat the cause of toothache in traditional societies: tooth worms!

    Any other traditional remedies? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    30 Nov 2015 Chris from Haunted Ohio Books with a cracker.

    A sympathetic Cure for the Tooth-ach. [sic] With an iron nail raise and cut the gum from about the tooth till it bleed, and that some of the blood stick upon the nail; then drive it into a wooden beam up to the head; after this is done you never shall have the toothache in all your life.” The author naively adds: “But whether the man used any spell or said any words while he drove the nail, I know not; only I saw done all that is said above. This is used by severall certain persons.”

    Notes and Queries Vol. II No. 39 27 July 1850: p. 130